Campaigning with CTC
GMCC member Alex Bailey spent 2011 in Guildford working as Interim Communications Officer for national cyclists’ organisation CTC. Here he tells us what he got up to.
As a certified bike geek, my friends and family are perplexed by my enthusiasm for cycling. GMCC meetings were, for four years, the only place I could exercise my cycling obsession with fellow cycloholics. So, eighteen months ago, if you’d said I’d be able to blether about cycling all day long and be paid for it, I’d have said, ‘I wish.’ It turns out that my ideal job was just around the corner.
Everyone loves a league table
I hardly dared cycle to the CTC office for fear of coming a cropper on the sheet ice that covered the roads at the start of 2011. Once I’d made it in and warmed up, I settled down to the publicity for the Fill That Hole Awards initiative, where my colleagues and I deployed questionably rigorous methods to find the best pothole fixing highway authority. In a campaign that captured the interest of journalists during the big freeze, various local newspapers reported the position of their local authority on the Fill That Hole league table. And so I learnt the first lesson of media campaigning: the local press loves slating the council.
When is a campaign not a campaign?
The snow had barely melted from the treetops when the Coalition Government announced its intention to sell large swathes of English Forestry Commission land – and we geared up for a battle to protect cycle access through the woodland. The forests received an early reprieve with the Government’s U-turn after rural England got hot under the collar. Almost an anti-climax, although good news. Anything can happen.
Sometimes you win by accident
So we turned to Northern Ireland, where Assembly member Pat Ramsey had gained approval for a bill seeking to outlaw cycling without a helmet, which could have had a disastrous effect on utility cycling levels. In collaboration with Sustrans, we launched an online petition and a publicity campaign. The bill ran aground when the Assembly dissolved for a general election.
A tweet is worth a thousand words
Our Autumn campaign opposed the DfT’s trial of longer lorries after its own research showed that these vehicles pose an increased threat to cyclists and other road users. We encouraged cyclists to contact their MPs, garnering more than 1,000 emails in a week, thanks in part to the awesome power of Twitter. Often, less is more.
I returned to Greater Manchester in December 2011, keen to share the lessons I had learnt and to help GMCC represent cyclists on the rainy streets we call home.
CTC is a good organisation to work for with a shared purpose among the team and a collegiate ethos where junior employees participate in decision making – and added to this, they don’t roll their eyes when you talk about bikes all day long. If you’re considering applying for a job with them, I recommend it.
CTC’s pothole reporting website is still live at fillthathole.org.uk
Although the Government cancelled its plan to sell approximately 50% of England’s forestry estate, it is entitled under existing statute to sell 15% of the national estate annually.
The Government went ahead with its trial of 18.55m lorries but the trial was limited in size.